Titan Quest (PC)
A ďDiablo cloneĒ thatís better than Diablo and perhaps the best of its kind.

Immortal Throne is an expansion which adds a whole new act to the already 3 act campaign of Titan Quest. I also played using the fan patch version 1.17. This review is of Titan Quest as a whole including the expansion.

TQ is a hack and slash RPG much like Diablo. You run around clicking monsters to kill them, gaining experience and leveling up. The main focus of these types of games is the finding of loot dropped by monsters and chests. I will now go in depth about the various features of this game.

I wanted to make a section to tell you about general gameplay features and facts to aid you as you read this review. The max level in TQ is 65 and IT increases it to 75. When you level you gain 3 skill points and 2 attribute points to spend how you like. The attribute points can be used to increase your max health or energy, or increase your strength, dexterity, or intelligence. There are 3 difficulty levels with the next highest one being unlocked after beating the game on the previous difficulty.

STORY: 8/10
The story is never a big deal in these kinds of games. Theyíre merely there to give you a reason to progress forward and kill more monsters. What is nice and something you donít often see in these kinds of games is that there are more characters you can speak to than just the quest givers. These extra characters will tell you a little bit about something, either the main quest or the situation that NPC faces. Whatís more is each character will say 4-5 different things if you repeatedly talk to them, and not always just a short sentence either, but real plot advancement. Thereís a lot of story here for both the main quest and side quests if you care to talk to the people. Of course you can completely ignore them, skipping the dialogue to progress the quest.

Iím not an expert on graphics by far, but the graphics here look pretty good for their time. It gives my 6 year old laptop trouble, thatís for sure. The physics engine for killing enemies is simply tons of fun and I will go more in depth into this later.

SOUND: 10/10
The sound effects are pretty good. Everything sounds like itís supposed to and the enemies all sound believable. Occasionally the death sounds of certain enemies can get annoying, but thatís it. There is also full voice over for all the dialogue in the game. Iím not an expert on voice acting either, but I can say with a fair amount of confidence that the voice acting in this is actually very good. The people you talk to, especially of the main quest, all do their role very well. You can tell the voice actors put real effort into it, and in the case of vendors and others, had a lot of fun. To me this is what counts and I never have trouble listening to the dialogue.

SKILLS: 10/10
The skills are where this game really shines. How it works is that at the beginning of the game you select your gender and start the game. Upon your first level you can select your first skill mastery. There are 8 skill masteries in TQ, with a 9th one added in the expansion IT. When you reach level 8 you can select your 2nd and final skill mastery. Each mastery has many different skills you can learn such as passive skills, ones you must activate, and ones that stay active for a certain reserved energy cost. Each skill can be upgraded with points many times, the average being 12, making the skill better and better. When you level up you get 3 skill points to play with which I really enjoy. I much prefer having more skill points and longer skill advancement than fewer points and shorter, but more meaningful, skill advancement. The skills are broken up into tiers and to get access to the skills at the next tier you must invest skill points into a bar on the left. Investing in this bar will raise your health, energy, and attributes; I believe a unique feature to this game. As you can imagine this enables for massive replayability to try out all the different skill mastery combinations.

The only downside is that at least a few skills in each mastery are just plain useless or have limited usefulness. On the plus side donít worry if you put points into a skill that later you decide sucks, because by going to a certain vendor you can pay to have skill points returned to you, with the price getting incrementally larger with each point you have returned. You can also find items which will raise your skills, even allowing them to go beyond their max for even greater benefits.

LOOT: 10/10
Loot is the main focus of these kinds of games and this game does not disappoint. There are several different tiers of loot with the higher tiers of course being harder to find. There are also vendors who occasionally sell good items, but the best loot is always found. Higher difficulties will reward even better loot and more set items and uniques. There are also relics and charms dropped by monsters which you can add to your equipment to make them stronger. Higher difficulties have better relics and charms.

There are 4 acts in the game with the expansion and each act has many unique monsters for you to fight. Although the monsters arenít palette swapped, their behavior and attack patterns generally donít change much. This isnít a big surprise though. The different monsters do have their own unique drops that you wonít find from other monsters. The bosses are generally fun and usually challenging. The bosses also have their own unique drops to farm for. Monsters and bosses (as well as chests) do respawn but only when you quit the game and come back.

First I want to say something about the physics engine for killing enemies: itís awesome! Whenever you kill enemies their bodies react fairly realistically to how they were killed. Kill an enemy with a magic explosion? The body goes flying into the air! Kill a monster with a single powerful blow from your axe? The body shoots backwards! Such a thing is very nice for not only getting you immersed but helping to prevent the game from being repetitive.

Something to note is that the game plays slower than others of its kind. I know most people want their game to play at 60fps and be real fast, and thatís fine. Personally I found it a tad annoying in games like Diablo 2 and Torchlight where you and the enemies move so fast. In this itís slightly slower paced to make it easier to fight enemies and not constantly miss clicking them and running around crazily.

Another thing I like is that enemies almost never run away and archers donít really move away from melee characters until later in the game. What annoys me in other games are the enemies constantly running away and then I have to run them down. In this the melee monsters swarm around you, and the archers and mages mercilessly rain arrows and magic on you. It just feels *right*.

Finally I really like the fact that all magic items are identified. Instead of the tedious chore of carrying around identify scrolls, you always know what the items are and do. You also can create a teleport and tele to any unlocked place at any time, exactly like a town scroll in Diablo. Again this removes the tediousness of carrying around these scrolls and I find this very convenient letting you think about the game itself instead of the annoying scrolls.

Unlike most games of this genre none of the levels are randomly generated; everything was hand made and hand placed. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. The obvious bad thing is that this limits replayability because by the 2nd and 3rd playthrough you have everything memorized. The good thing is that you have everything memorized and so after the first time wonít get lost anymore, but of course the sense of exploration is gone. I wouldíve liked a few dungeons and areas to be randomly generated to keep things fresh and thatís why this doesnít get a solid 10/10.

This is a LONG game. My first time playing it took me 40 hours to beat the game (including the expansion). I explored every part of every land, did all side quests, and killed every monster I came across. But after you beat the game you access to the next hardest difficulty and from there start the game over with everything you had from the previous difficulty! Enemies are tougher and drop better loot. When you beat the game you arenít likely to be much higher than level 40, and as you remember the max level is 75 with IT. Have fun! Did I mention this was all on one character? Enjoy doing this with multiple character builds, I know I will! Lastly you can play this game online with friends, but I prefer single player so I havenít messed with any of that.

As I said I played this game with the expansion. It adds many new things including changing the loot in the main game. The fourth act it adds is also bigger than any of the other acts. And it adds a very useful stash to the game so you can store items and transfer them to your other characters. Donít even think about playing TQ without its expansion IT!

It should be noted that Iím using my own slight variation of a scoring system where 10/10 does not necessarily mean flawless and perfect in every way. It just means the game is a must play for fans of the genre. I therefore canít recommend this game enough. If you are a fan of Diablo or the other games of its type, then you are seriously missing out if you donít check out this game. Phenomenal replayability, a really fun physics engine, and the amazing skill mastery system means that to me this game is the best of its kind. Play it now!

Posted 6-3-12
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